“Garden State” is a comedy-drama movie featuring Zach Braff and Natalie Portman that captures the state of transition young adults experience in a refreshing light. The narrative features psychological undertones.
Andrew Largeman (Braff) has been medicated since he was 10 years old, resulting in his emotional detachment. He is simply going through the motions of day-to-day life. Sam, a vivacious 20-something with problems of her own, inspires Andrew to start really living.
Following are some thought-provoking quotes from the film (along with my own interpretations).
I’m in no position to comment on whether you should stay on the meds or not since I don’t know your story, but my opinion, since you’re paying for it, is that, yeah, those drugs may help you as a means to an end, but sooner or later, if you’re not in some form of therapy, whatever’s going on in your mind will find a way to peek its little head out of the water. – Dr. Cohen
Psychiatric medication may eliminate various symptoms without resolving the root of the conflict. And yes, medicine can numb. It can aid functionality, but the deep-seated issue won’t disappear. Eventually, confrontation will be necessary in order to move forward.
Dr. Cohen: Are you all right?
Dr. Cohen: Yeah, you’re all right. You’re alive.
Whatever it is you’re experiencing, whatever obstacle is present, you’re still here. You’re here in this moment and you’re alive. Being in tune to that truth, honing in on that awareness, can be incredibly humbling.
If you can’t laugh at yourself, life’s going to seem a whole lot longer than you’d like … What do you do? You laugh, you know. I’m not saying I don’t cry, but in between, I laugh. – Sam
It’s okay to cry and it’s okay to be sad. Crying can serve as a much-needed cathartic release. However, there’s something to be said for finding the humor in tough times as well. Laughter infuses a bit of light into the darkness.
You’re in it right now, aren’t you? My mom always says that when she can see I’m working something out in my head; she’s like ‘you’re in it right now.’ And I’m looking at you, and you’re telling me this story … you’re definitely in it right now. – Sam
When my mind is in overdrive and thoughts have to be worked out, little by little, I’m in it. And I remain in it until my thoughts untangle, until a semblance of clarity is reached.
Andrew: Hey Albert, good luck exploring the infinite abyss.
Albert: Hey, you too.
Explore what’s vast and uncertain. Life is composed of the unknown. Some answers will never surface. Some things are beyond human comprehension. However, you can still enjoy the quest.
Andrew: This hurts so much.
Sam: Yeah, I know. But that is life. If nothing else, that’s life, you know. It’s real. Sometimes it hurts. But it’s sort of all we have.
There’s pain, there’s suffering, there’s discomfort. But it’s part of life, and life is what we know — it’s all there is. Having the wherewithal to navigate through that kind of pain encourages growth and strength.
When I’m with you, I feel so safe. Like I’m home. – Andrew
Home does not have to be associated with a literal place. Feeling secure within yourself, or with another person you’re connected to, can feel like home, too.
What I want more than anything in the world is it to be okay with you to feel something again. Even if it’s pain. For the first time, let’s just allow ourselves to be whatever it is we are. – Andrew
You don’t have to berate yourself for difficult, unpleasant emotions. All emotions encompass the human experience. Let it be whatever it is supposed to be. Allow the feelings to unfold organically; let them run their course. Practice self-compassion and self-love.
I’m really messed up right now, and I’ve got a whole lot of stuff I gotta work out, but I don’t want to waste anymore of my life without you in it. – Andrew
This echoes the aforementioned sentiment that life is all we have. Life is too short to walk away from rare opportunities, from meaningful connections. If possible, try to seize such chances.